BY CORINNE MEYER
For as long as I can remember, I have always had a fascination with Eclipses and of course a real desire to experience what totality must be like. All this seemed like an impossible dream until recently when I joined The Independent Traveller as tour photographer on the trip of a life time to the Faroe Islands.
When I first heard that the shadow of the moon would make landfall in only two places on the planet, I realised that this was a very special Eclipse indeed.
I had been in contact with the rest of the team I would be joining via e-mail for a few weeks leading up to departure and of course the excitement started building long before departure day. At last, D Day arrived and I was off, armed with photographic equipment, tripod, laptop and every conceivable thing I may need to get the perfect shot of the Eclipse. Not to mention clothing that I would never again wear given that I live in the Southern Hemisphere and we just never see cold like that.
I spent the first day getting to know The Independent Traveller guests and taking shots of them and the picturesque village of Torshavn. Thereafter I accompanied Kate to a television interview with Al Jazeera in the village of Gjogv and that same evening we had a welcome dinner at Ostrom with the most interesting speeches by Terry Moseley and Dr Kate Russo. I specifically recall Terry saying to the guests "don't worry about taking the perfect shot - just enjoy the moment" which is exactly what Kate had said to me in my correspondence with her before my departure. My immediate reaction to both of these seasoned eclipse chasers was "Well of course I am going to get the perfect shot! I`ve come half way across the world and I WILL get the PERFECT shot. What followed surprised me greatly for I found myself experiencing a profoundly life changing and emotional experience.
On the morning of the 20th March we were up early and off to the viewing site. The skies were heavy with cloud, it was raining constantly and things certainly did not look promising. The viewing site was a hive of activity with people milling around, chatting excitably and those with cameras and tripods jostling for the best position to set up their equipment. The BBC was camped to the left of me and I settled down in a nice little spot with my camera on tripod pointing down the fjord in anticipation of this awesome phenomena. As the time drew nearer, it slowly dawned on me that we were going to be clouded out and that I would not be "seeing" totality, but instead I would only '"experience" it.
From then on in, things happened so swiftly, yet they took so long. As darkness descended, I felt as if God had taken a plug and sucked the colour out of the world, it happened so much faster than I could ever have imagined. My thoughts were shouting "No not yet - I'm not ready! The camera is not set for this yet, give me another minute to get everything ready and then you can take the colour of the world!" The realisation that I was not running the show suddenly became very apparent and I felt helpless and small. This was not MY show.
As I sat there, the darkness encroaching with such density and speed, I felt someone put their hand on my shoulder and softly ask, - 'Is this your first Eclipse?" and when I answered, yes it was, Lesley, one of the guest on our tour said "I`m so pleased I could share this with you." I was so touched and became extremely emotional as she squeezed my shoulders. Having her presence there, knowing instinctively that we were feeling the same feelings, was the most awesome experience I have ever had with a stranger. I know that we are somehow forever connected now and I so appreciated her kind and understanding words; she was so gentle and genuinely enjoying being with me. No words can describe how I felt at this point.
The light rushed back just as fast as it had disappeared, and it took me a good 10 minutes to gather myself and try to process what had happened. My jolt back to reality came with the realisation that I had only taken one photo on my iPhone. My Nikon had been long forgotten on its tripod. The moment gone.
The Total Eclipse on the Faroe Islands left me with an immediate feeling that my mind had been wiped clean by a huge blackboard duster, I felt energised and connected, in the moment and peaceful. I don't think anything can top this experience – except perhaps going to my next eclipse and not being clouded out!!